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Curtis Gordon
Born:  July 27, 1928
Died:  May 2, 2004
WABB Mobile, AL
WKAB Mobile, AL
WKTG Thomasville, GA
WMGA Moultrie, GA

About The Artist

Curtis Gordon had a long career as a country musician much of it centered in Mobile, AL. He recorded f ine material in both mainstream country and rockabilly for both RCA Victor and Mercury in the 1950's, but never had the "big hit" that would propel him to lasting national stardom. Still, Gordon remained a regional favorite for decades.

Gordon was born on a farm near Moultrie, GA and grew up there. His early country heroes were Ernest Tubb and Bob Wills. In his mid-teens, Curtis played on radio with a local band — Pee Wee Mills and the Twilight Playboys — and then had his own program.

When he signed with Mercury in 1955, the story in Billboard included some tidbits of his early interest in music. When he was 13, he won an amateur contest that had a first prize of $15.00. That was his impetus to leave home when he was 14 and started playing with a local band in Gulfport, Mississippi. When he was young, it was said one of his fondest memories was the time his father bought him a $5.00 guitar. Another job he had paid $1.00 a day as a plowhand, working with a mule.

A little later, he went to Gulfport, MS and played there on a local station for six to eight months (call letters unknown). Sometime after that he joined the cast of the Dixie Barn Dance in Mobile, about halfway between Moultrie and Gulfport.

In June 1952, he went to Atlanta and auditioned for RCA Victor. He was accepted and signed with them in October to a two-year contract, when he had his first session. About the same time, he opened his Radio Ranch nightclub which became a successful country music center. In 1953, he left Alabama for a few months to tour with other country stars, leaving his band to run the Ranch.

In his two-years with RCA, Curtis turned out sixteen numbers, none of which were hits but some were quite good. More memorable were "Rompin' and Stompin'" and "Caffeine and Nicotine." When his contract expired he signed with Mercury according to Billboard in February 1955, where the process was repeated, good material but no hits. Notable numbers included Eddie Noack's "Don't Trade (an Old Fashioned Sweetheart for a Honky-Tonk Queen)".

Promo Ad - Tivoli Theater - Kaw, OK - Cousin Herald Goodwin - Little Orphan Girl (Sally Forrester) - Curt Poulton - August 1939
Promo Ad - Rex Theater - Seminole, OK - Cousin Herald Goodman - Little Orphan Girl - Mango Red - Vagabond Cowboys - November 1939

Country Song Roundup - No. 36 - January 1955 - Little Jimmy Dickens - Curtis Gordon
Country Song Roundup - No. 49 - April 1957 - Gene Vincent - Faron Young - Curtis Gordon

Promo Ad -White's Farm Center - Bay Minette, AL - Curtis Gordon - July 1954
Promo Ad - Bon Fire Club - Dothan, AL - Curis Gordon - The Celestials - June 1961
Promo Ad - Jackson Community House - Jackson, AL - Curtis Gordon - May 1954

Promo Ad - Big Deep South Jamboree - Fort Dixie Graves Armory - Curtis Gordon - Frad Wamble - Jack Turner - Shorty Sullivan and his Green Valley Boys - Montgomery, AL - January 1954
Promo Ad - Mercury Records - Jimmy Dean - Curtis Gordon - Benny Martin - Jimmy Skinner - LaDell Sisters - March 1956

Curtis Gordon
Record Reviews
The Cash Box and The Billboard

Date Label Rec No. Review
12/20/1952 (CB) RCA Victor 20-5062 You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet — A cute middle beat bounce is belted by Curtis Gordon who indicates that he can surpass his girl’s perfidy without any trouble. (Rating: C+)

The Greatest Sin — The other side is a slow tempo story of a broken affair chanted by Gordon in nasal tone. (Rating: C+)
12/20/1952 (BB) RCA Victor 20-5062 The Greatest Sin — This is a real country tear-jerker which could burst thru. Oddly enough it was penned by a couple of Broadway hillbillies - Cy Coben and Charlie Grean. It sounds authentic, too. (Rating: 75)

You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet — More good chanting from Gordon. This time on a somewhat lighter-heared piece of material. (Rating: 71)
3/7/1953 (BB) RCA Victor 20-5182 If You Tell Me One More Lie — Okay rendition of a new weeper by Gordon. The warbler sings it nicely but he doesn't have enough emotion on Ihis culling. (Rating: 70)

What's A Little Pride — A pleasant effort about foolish pride versus true love Is sung well by Gordon over routine backing. (Rating: 68)
7/4/1953 (BB) RCA Victor 20-5356 Rompin' and Stompin' — Country boogie, taken at an engaging beat. has a liberal sprinkling of r. & b. flavor. Sung and played brightly, the side should do right well on the coin boxes. (Rating: 72)

Rocky Road Of Love — Only Gordon fans will probably go for this so-so warble of the ballad. (Rating: 60)
3/20/1954 (CB) RCA Victor 20-5639 I'd Do It For You — Curtis Gordon promises to create a good deal of excitement in the jukes as he comes up with a polished reading on an up-tempo ditty with inviting lyrics. A fine arrangement. (Rating: B)

You Crazy, Crazy Moon — On the lower half, Gordon dishes up a tender vocal on a pretty piece of material. A slow tempo item capably fashioned by the chanter. (Rating: B)
6/12/1954 (CB) RCA Victor 20-5760 Caffeine and Nicotine — Curtis Gordon’s voice really packs a wallop as he waxes a fast moving piece with infectious lyrics. The artist must have a smoke and a cup of java to settle his nerves. (Rating: B+)

Divided Heart — Lower deck is a feelingful, middle tempo tune that Gordon performs in impressive fashion. Two winning sides. (Rating: B)
2/5/1955 (BB) Mercury 70538 Don't Trade — Gordon does a good job with a poignant weeper in which he advises that a honky tank angel is no match fora home loving saint. Listeoable wax. (Rating: 76)

Chopsticks Mambo — Here's a clever country band version of the chopsticks melody in mambo tempo. It's an attractive and lively Instmmental Slicing that could get many spins In the field. (Rating: 75)
10/1/1955 (BB) Mercury 70708 Our Secret Rendezvous — Gordon sings with perceptive feeling and sincerity on a ballad with outstanding lyrics. Altho both are "shackled" to another, they treasure "Our Secret Rendezvous." Jocks and jukes are bound to spin it. (Rating: 75)

(You're A) Girl With A Future — Another excellent side. Gordon warbles attractively. and the lyric Idea (e.g., "You're a girl with a future; I'm a guy with a past') is clever and commercial. (Rating: 73)
5/12/1956 (CB) Mercury 70861 Mobile, Alabama — Curtis Gordon turns in an engaging vocal effort as he enthusiastically belts out his feelings for his home-town. A catchy, swingin’ jumper that should latch onto a heap of sales and spins. (Rating: B+)

Draggin' — On this end Gordon ‘drives’ out a solid rock ’n roller that deals with a current teenage auto racing fad. (Rating: B)
5/12/1956 (BB) Mercury 70861 Mobile, Alabama — Curtis Gordon belts it out with a good understanding of the current rock and roll-country trend. (Rating: 74)

Draggin' — A lively country blues with a novelty lyric and a rocking bat. Merits exposure. (Rating: 74)
1/26/1957 (BB) Mercury 71037 So Tired Of Crying — A fine. driving rhythm side. Gordon chants the tale of a disappointed love with a forceful delivery, detailing the charges of cheating. etc. Well-recorded. (Rating: 76)

I Know My Baby's Gone — A weeper, with that peculiarly effective sour type of harmony in the backing. Curtis Gordon belts out the lyric with emotion. Merits good play. (Rating: 75)
2/2/1957 (CB) Mercury-Starday 71037 So Tired Of Crying — With a compelling quality in his voice Curtis Gordon sadly reflects that his sweetie’s been cheatin’ on him. An expressive reading of a quick beat blues item. Interesting arrangement showcases the lyric’s dramatic quality. Fine for deejay programming. (Rating: B+)

I Know My Baby's Gone — Reverse etching is an affecting, moderate tempo, romantic weeper that Gordon put across with heartfelt emotion. (Rating: B)
5/11/1957 (CB) Nercury-Starday 71097 Sittin' On Top — Here’s an intriguing blues item tantalizingly fashioned by the distinctive voice of Curtis Gordon. Side has a flavorful rockin’ beat and should attract considerable attention in the jukes; over the counter and on the air. (Rating: B)

Out To Win Your Heart — Flipside is a charming, Latin-flavored, romantic item that Gordon decks out in an engaging, light-hearted manner. An attractive coupler. (Rating: B)
9/9/1957 (BB) Mercury 71183 I Wouldn't — Effective country-stvled warbanf wlth modified rock end roll backing no an okay ditty with a good beat. Moderate spin potential. (Rating: 68)

Please, Baby, Please — Same comment (Rating: 66)

For some years in the mid-1950's Gordon had a weekly WALA-TV show where he was known as "Mr. Personality." As a tribute to to his adopted home town he recorded "Mobile, Alabama." Ironically, perhaps his best Mercury number was a rockabilly classic, "Rock, Roll, Jump and Jive" that remained unreleased until 1985 when it appeared on a Bear Family LP containing most of his Mercury material.

In 1954, RCA Victor sponsored a promotional tour for some of its key country artists on the label. It was promoted as the "RCA Victor Country Caravan." Curtis was on the tour with other acts such as Eddy Arnold, Johnnie and Jack; the Davis Sisters; Minnie Pearl; Grandpa Jones; Charline Arthur and Chet Atkins. The tour arrangements were being handled by Col. Tom Parker.

Curtis also made appearances at the annual salute to Jimmie Rodgers in Meridian, Mississippi that was held around May 26, the day of the Singing Brakeman's death.

On April 29 1954, the tour reached Mobile, Alabama. Eddie Hill was the emcee. The show attracted 1,761 paid admissions. However, the competition for attention was fierce in the city at the time as their were a half-dozen political rallies in the city for county and state politicians running for office. One those events drew an audience of 5,000. The show w was held in the open air Ladd Stadium. Betty Cody was said to have gotten the biggest round of applause due to her yodeling efforts. Hal Lone Pine was there, Mister Guitar himself, Chet Atkins was there. Hawkshaw Hawkins was said to have flown in for the show. The reviewer wrote that "Charline Arthur was nice to hear and look at." Curtis Gordon did his hit at the time, "Leave My Baby Alone." Minnie Pearl got called back for two encores for her "...wise cracks and superb hillbilly acting in her "How To Catch A Man With The Minnie Pearl Plan" routine. Hank Snow was also on the show.

In the summer of 1955, Billboard was reporting that Curtis was stationed at Fort Jackson, Sout Carolina for basic training and due to move to Fort McPherson, Georgia for Third Army Special Service.

In January 1956, took a break from his Army duties and appeared with Ray Price and T. Tommy Cutrer on the "Breaksfast at the Grand Ole Opry" from WSM's auditorium in Nashville on January 14, 1956.

That ended Gordon's work on major labels, but he remained a musical force in Mobile and environs. His later recordings came out for small firms such as Jim Denny's Dollie label. He continued to work regionally three or four nights a week into the mid-1980's and perhaps later.

His obituary in a Birmingham newspaper noted Curtis played "...western swing, country and country rock in a music career that sanned more than 50 years." He played with numerous well-known musicians including: Chet Atkins, Hank Garland, Eddie Hill, Noel Boggs, Al Murray, Bud Isaacs, Jerry Byrd, and, Buddy Emmons. His tunes were recorded by artists such as Fats Domino and George Jones.

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com would like to express its thanks to Ivan M. Tribe, author of Mountaineer Jamboree — Country Music in West Virginia and other books that can be found on Amazon.com and numerous articles in other publications for providing us with information about this artist.
  • Mercury Signs Gordon; February 12, 1955; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Artist Tour To Hit 10 Big Cities in 15 Days; January 16, 1954; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • RCA Country P'kge Gives Mobile Crowd Solid Show; May 8, 1954; The Billboard; Cincnnati, OH
  • Folk Talent and Tunes; August 6, 1955; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Stars On The Horizon; Cowboy Songs; No. 26; May 1953; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Our Album Of Country Song Folk; Country Song Roundup; No. 22; February 1953; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Stars On The Horizon; Cowboy Songs; No. 36; August 1954; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Headin' Up; May 1955; Country & Western Jamboree; Maher Publications, Inc.; Chicago, IL
  • Country Doin's At WALA; January 1956; No. 44; Cowboy Songs; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Mr. Personality - Curtis Gordon; Country Song Roundup; No. 49; April 1957; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • On The Way Up; Melody Trails; Vol. 9, No. 1; Winter 1954; Ernest Tubb Fan Club; Fort Smith, AR
  • Biographies of the Stars - Curtis Gordon; January 1957; Country & Western Jamboree; Maher Publications, Inc.; Chicago, IL
  • Mr. Personality Curtis Gordon; Country Song Roundup; No. 59; March 1959; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Edward Curtis Gordon, country music guitarist; May 6, 2004; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Atlanta, GA
  • Country musician Gordon dead at 76; May 5, 2004; Ledger-Inquirer; Columbus, GA
  • Obituary: Country Music Figure Dead At 76; May 5, 2004; Birmingham Post-Herald; Birmingham, AL

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Rec. No. Side Song Title
  70538 A Chopsticks Mambo
  70538 B Don't Trade
  70648 A Blue Lifetime
  70648 B Baby, Please Come Home
  71121 A Sixteen
  71121 B Cry, Cry
Mercury / Starday
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  71183 A I Wouldn't
  71183 B Please Baby Please
RCA Victor
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  20-5062 A The Greatest Sin
  20-5062 B You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet
  20-5182 A If You Tell Me One More Lie
  20-5182 B What's A Little Pride
  20-5356 A Rocky Road Of Love
  20-5356 B Rompin' And Stompin
  20-5461 A I Just Don't Love You Anymore
  20-5461 B Where'd You Get So Much Of
  20-5550 A Little Bo-Peep
  20-5550 B Tell 'Em No
  20-5639 A I'd Do It For You
  20-5639 B You Crazy, Crazy Moon
  20-5760 A (Not Legible)
  20-5760 B Caffeine And Nicotine
  20-5818 A Baby, Baby Me
  20-5818 B I'd Like To Tell You

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